*Nigeria Denies Hiring Mercenaries to Fight Boko Haram* *Naira devalued again, trades at N198 to dollar*

*Nigeria Denies Hiring Mercenaries to Fight Boko Haram* *Naira devalued again, trades at N198 to dollar*

Sabinews Daily Morning News Update for February 26, 2015MORNING NEWS

 

National News

Nigeria Denies Hiring Mercenaries to Fight Boko Haram

A spokesman for Nigeria’s government has rejected media reports that President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration has hired “white mercenaries” in the ongoing military offensive against the Islamist militant group, Boko Haram.

Mike Omeri, the director general of Nigeria’s National Orientation Agency, said the government has demonstrated a commitment to winning the war on terror, despite sharp criticisms from opponents of the administration. Read more

Naira devalued again, trades at N198 to dollar

Barely three months, after it moved naira’s official exchange rate to N168 from N155 to the dollar, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has officially devalued it again as the Ni­gerian currency will now be traded at the rate of N198 to one US dollar.

This came after a cocktail of measures to arrest its consis­tent fall in value, which led to the closure of the Retail Dutch Auction System (RDAS) and Wholesale Dutch Auction System (WDAS) foreign ex­change windows, failed to halt its slide. Read more

Five Killed as Riot Erupts again at Oshodi

Barely seven days after two rival gangs clashed at the Oshodi area of Lagos State, another clash by the same warring groups occurred yesterday, over battle for supremacy, which allegedly led to the death of five people.
The rival gangs, who belong to different oppositions of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), were said to have resumed their fight over who controls the Oshodi area, known as a cash cow owing to the numerous motor parks sited there. Read more

InfraCos’ investments will bridge broadband gap –Experts

There are indications that the country may have gotten it right concerning the strategy to accelerate its broadband aspiration following the successful licensing of MainOne Consortium and IHS Consortium, to provide fibre infrastructure for the telecoms industry.

The telecoms regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission had in 2013 created the Infrastructure Company, InfraCo, to roll out a national fibre optic network for broadband under a Presidential Plan to boost high speed Internet services across Nigeria. Read more

FEC approves $400m loan for Lagos, Osun, Rivers, Ogun

Federal Executive Council, FEC, yesterday ratified presidential anticipatory approval of over $400 million foreign credit facilities for water and developmental projects in Lagos, Osun, Rivers and Ogun states.

Briefing State House Correspondents at the end of the meeting, Minister of Aviation, Osita Chidoka, said the projects would have significant impacts in the lives of the people. Read more

Jonathan, Obasanjo in Sokoto, Say Shagari is Role Model to Leaders

President Goodluck Jonathan and former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, on Wednesday described Second Republic President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, as a role model to Nigerian leaders especially the members of the National Council of State.

Jonathan made the remark when he led four other former Heads of state -General Yakubu Gowon, General Ibrahim Babangida, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (all retired) and Chief Ernest Shonekan – to felicitate with Shagari on the occasion of his 90th birthday celebration at his residence in Sokoto. Read more

FRSC cancels deadline for new number plate

The Corps Marshall of the Federal Road Safety Commission, Mr. Boboye Oyeyemi, has said that the agency will no longer insist on any deadline for the enforcement of the new number plate.

Oyeyemi, who stated this on Wednesday in an interview with journalists when he paid a courtesy visit on Governor Theodore Orji at the Government House in Umuahia, said the agency would abide by the court ruling which restrained it from enforcing the proposal. Read more

Uduaghan sends peace mission to feuding communities

Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State has sent a peace delegation to Ezebiri community in Bomadi Local Government Area of the state, whose son was killed by suspected youths of Ufrukama, a neighbouring community in Ughelli South Local Government Area, over bailing of a fish pond. Read more

Castle Milk Stout unveils partnership with Barcelona

International Breweries Plc has unveiled the partnership of one of its products, Castle Milk Stout, with Spanish club FC Barcelona.

The Chief Operating Officer of the IBPlc, Mr. Andrew Ross, at a ceremony held in the premises of the brewery in Ilesa, Osun State on Tuesday, said the partnership, which is already dubbed “the smoothest partnership”, would play a key role in maintaining Castle Milk Stout’s favourite position among the brands in the world. Read more

House Gives Okonjo-Iweala One-week Ultimatum to Submit PwC Forensic Audit on NNPC

The House of Representatives  Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Wednesday gave the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance , Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, one week to furnish it with  the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) forensic audit report on the alleged un-remitted $20 billion by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

This follows a resolution mandating PAC to look into the matter last week. Read more

Envoy Denies Involvement of French Nationals in Boko Haram

The French Ambassador to Nigeria, Jacques Champagne De Labriolle, has denied a news report that eight French nationals were captured by the Camerounian forces during their fight against Boko Haram insurgents in the sub-region.

De Labriolle, who spoke to ARISE News, a THISDAY sister television station, on Wednesday, said his country had carried out its investigations and verified that the eight members of Boko Haram arrested near the Nigerian border by Camerounian forces were not from France. Read more

Greek Oil Tanker Hostages Released in Nigeria

Two Greeks and a Pakistani taken hostage three weeks ago off the coast of Nigeria in a bloody attack on a Greek oil tanker have been freed, the ship’s owner said on Wednesday.

Aeolos Management, owner of the Maltese-flagged VLCC Kalamos, according to the AFP, said in a statement that pending medical examinations, the three men would be flown home to recover from their “traumatic experience.” Read more

Missionary’s kidnappers in Nigeria seek $300,000 ransom

The armed men who abducted a Seattle missionary earlier this week in southern Nigeria have demanded a ransom of nearly $300,000, police said Wednesday.

The Rev. Phyllis Sortor was kidnapped from the Hope Academy compound in Emiworo, Kogi state, on Monday morning, police and the Free Methodist Church said. Read more

AGF Orders Withdrawal of Affidavit against Use of PVCs

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN), has confirmed that the affidavit filed against the use of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) was filed by lawyers from his ministry.

However, he said he did not authorise the filing of the process and had ordered that the counter-affidavit be withdrawn. Read more

Police Arrest Former Footballer, Seven Others for Robbery

An ex-footballer with the defunct Niger Tornados football club of Niger State, Nura Mohammed, was on Wednesday paraded at the Lagos State Police Command Headquarters, Ikeja, alongside seven others for armed robbery.

The other gang members were identified as Manven Bali, Chekwube Emeka, Ejike Chukwuemeka, Jacob Ali, Titus Johana and Richard Augustine. Read more

Jos festival of Theatre: unveiling untold stories through drama

The war ravaged theatre lovers in and around the city of Jos, the Plateau State capital will heave a sigh of relief as the 9th edition of the annual Jos Festival of Theatre opens with its theatrical performance. The 2015 festival which will feature five plays alongside a pre-festival play a few days to the opening is scheduled to open from March 10th and last to March 14th 2015. Read more

Lagos trains teachers on use of online database

The Managing Director, Applied Services Limited, Mr Remi Erogbogbo has said that the Lagos State government education management system has been fully computerized to tackle school attendance, subjects attendance, examination records and report cards.

Speaking with journalists during a workshop organised for teachers to familiarize them with handling data of students and school operation online, Erogbogbo said the programme was to launch the upgraded version of the system. Read more

Chinese abducted in Nigeria

A group of seven gunmen kidnapped a Chinese national in central Nigeria this week, witnesses said on Wednesday.

Cui Fu Long X, was working on a water plant in Toto local government area in Nasarawa State on Tuesday when a group of armed men entered the site and kidnapped the engineer. Read more

Baga IDPs will vote at home —Minimah

Chief of Army staff, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Minimah, yesterday visited Baga town in Kukawa Local Government Area of Borno State, assuring all the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, that the ongoing onslaught by the military in dislodging insurgents from all captured communities was increasingly achievable, so they could return to their various homes and vote during the coming general elections.

Minimah stated this in an interview with newsmen in Maiduguri, the state capital, few minutes after he arrived from his trip to Baga. Read more

 

Economy

 

Insurers call for creation of insurance organisation

Worried by the low contribution of insurance to the economy as well as the refusal of government to take the sector serious, experts in the sector have called for the establishment of Nigerian Insurance Organisation that will serve as a link between the insurance industry and the government.

Speaking on the issue, Group Managing Director of Industrial and General Insurance Plc, IGI, Mr. Rotimi Fashola said that time has come for all players in the industry to close ranks in order to take full advantage of the untapped potential demand for insurance in Nigeria. Read more

N1bn lost daily to rice importation —FG

The Federal Government has said that the country loses about N1 billion everyday from importation of rice, even as it assured that Nigeria will soon stop importing the grains.

Special Adviser to the President on the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, NEPAD, and African Peer Review Mechanism, APRM, Mrs. Fidelia Akuabata Njeze, disclosed this at a one-day stakeholders’ forum on the establishment of the Nigeria/ECOWAS rice sector policy and regulation advocacy platform, in Abuja. Read more

Foreign reserves drop by $2.7bn in two months

The nation’s foreign exchange reserves tumbled by $2.68bn in less than two months to $31.79bn as of February 23, declining at a faster pace than what financial analysts had predicted, data obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria on Wednesday showed.

The current stock of external reserves revealed a drop of about eight per cent from the balance of $34.47bn recorded on December 31, 2014. Read more

FG to bridge $2.4trn infrastructure funding gap

Federal Government has moved to implement a strategic investment master plan aimed at bridging the nation’s huge infrastructural funding gap, estimated at about $2.4trillion within the next 30 years.

Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, NIPC, Mrs. Saratu Umar disclosed this during a media roundtable, organised by the agency as part of its ongoing stakeholders’ sensitisation programme in Lagos state. Read more

 

Oil and Gas

 

Gas flaring penalty: HOSTCOM demands payment of N1.2trn

Oil and gas stakeholders under the aegis of Host Communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and Gas, HOSTCOM, has expressed dissatisfaction over the continued delay in payment of N1,242.83 trillion collected by the Federal Government from oil companies flaring gas.

They are appealing to President Goodluck Jonathan to ensure urgent release of the funds to the communities. Read more

Navy arrests 13 suspected oil thieves

The headquarters of the Central Naval Command (CNC) of the Nigerian Navy in Bayelsa State has arrested 13 suspected oil thieves and intercepted a vessel laden with 100,000 litres of stolen crude oil.

It was gathered that the suspects and the vessel, MT REDEMPTION, were apprehended at Middleton and Pennington, off the Atlantic Ocean, in Brass, Bayelsa State. Read more

Nigeria government revenue falls 15% in January on lower oil

Nigeria’s gross government revenue fell 15% to 416 billion naira (US$2,07 billion) in January due to weaker oil prices, the accountant general said yesterday.

“There was substantial loss of revenue due to a further drop in the prices of crude oil,” Jonah Otunla said. “Also, a 33% decrease in export volumes between November and December 2014 translated to a loss of US$159 million.” Read more

 

 

World News

 

US Warns Against Travel Amid Boko Haram Attacks

The U.S. Department of State warned American citizens Wednesday about the dangers of traveling to and within Nigeria during the country’s 2015 elections next month. The controversial elections were postponed for six weeks because of security concerns in Nigeria’s northeast region, which is a hotbed for the Boko Haram terror group.

“The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Nigeria and urges caution while traveling within Nigeria during the general and gubernatorial elections on March 28 and April 11, 2015,” said the travel alert, which expires May 25. Read more

Embassies ‘on high alert’ after Kabul suicide car bomb attack

Foreign embassies have been put on high alert in Kabul in Afghanistan after a Taliban suicide car bomb attack left at least one dead and another injured.

The bomber drove their vehicle into a Turkish embassy car in the heavily fortified diplomatic quarter, the ministry of interior said. Read more

Ebola doctor attacks ‘scaremongers’

A doctor who contracted the deadly Ebola virus but travelled on New York’s tube system and ate out before he recovered has accused politicians and the media of scaring the public instead of educating people on the science of the disease.

Emergency room medic Craig Spencer was diagnosed with Ebola on October 23, days after returning from treating patients in Guinea with Doctors Without Borders. Read more

First Human Head Transplant Could Happen In 2017

The first human head transplant could take place in just two years, according to a radical proposal by an Italian surgeon.

Sergio Canavero, from the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, wants the surgery to be used to help extend the lives of people who have suffered degeneration of the muscles and nerves or those who have advanced cancer. Read more

Thousands of dead fish found in Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic sailing waters

Rio de Janeiro’s state environmental agency says it is investigating a fish die-off that has left thousands of carcasses floating in waters where sailing events are to be held when Brazil hosts next year’s Olympics.

The dead twaite shad, small whitish gray fish, were discovered Tuesday by inspectors conducting routine water testing in Rio’s sewage and rubbish-filled Guanabara Bay. Read more

 

Power

 

Power Generation Still Below 3700mw Despite FG’s NIPPs

Despite the commissioning of three new National Integrated Power Plants (NIPPs) by President Goodluck Jonathan recently, the country’s power generation is still abysmally poor at below 3,700 megawatts (MW).

The newly commissioned NIPPs are 434MW Geregu II in Ondo State, 528MW Omotosho II in Ondo State and the recently commissioned 750MW Olorunsogo II located in Ogun State, expected to add a combined generation capacity of 1,712MW to the grid network. Read more

Investments in power sector hit N300b

The Director-General, Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mr. Benjamin Ezra Dikki, has said over N300billion has so far been injected into the power sector by investors since the take-over, one and half years ago.

Dikki, who made this known when he featured on Nigeria Television Authority’s (NTA) live programme—Good Morning Nigeria, according to a statement from the BPE yesterday, pointed out that the investment was for upgrade of power infrastructure which had become obsolete over the decades, noting that new technologies are evolving. Read more

Ex-PHCN staff protest non-payment of allowance

About 2,000 former staff of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, yesterday took to the streets in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, to protest non-payment of their housing allowance amounting to about N400m, by the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company, IEDC.

The money, according to them, was their bulk housing allowance deducted from their salaries in 2013 before their final disengagement. Read more

 

Sports

 

Striking Warri Wolves Players, Pinnick Seek Middle Ground

Striking Warri Wolves players have sought audience with the president of the Nigeria Football Federation Amaju Pinnick , after they refused to train on Tuesday – barely four days to their Confederation of African Football (CAF) Cup preliminary round, second leg tie with Racing Club de Bobo Dioulasso of Burkina Faso in Warri – due to unpaid allowances.

A member of the team who pleaded anonymity confirmed that the players boycotted Tuesday’s training and will continue in that manner till their outstanding entitlements are paid in full. Read more

Plateau FA Crisis Deepens

There seems to be no end in sight to the crisis rocking the Plateau State Football Association, as nine of the 17 local government football associations in the state have urged the Nigerian Football Federation ( NFF) not to honour any results of elections allegedly held in the state. Read more

Eaglets Stumble Over South Africa

Having made it this far in the competition, Nigeria’s U-17 finally lost 1-0 to their South Africa U-17 opponents in the semi-final of the 11th African U-17 Championship in Niger Republic on Wednesday evening.

Khanyisa Mayo’s 26th minute strike silenced the Golden Eaglets who failed in their bid to come back in the second half of the tension-soaked encounter played at the Stade Général Seyni Kountché, Niamey. Read more

NFF sets World Cup target for Falcons

Director of Technical at the Nigeria Football Federation, Emmanuel Ikpeme, has charged the Super Falcons to make sure they qualify for the knockout stages of the FIFA World Cup in Canada.

Speaking during his official welcome of the team to camp for their upcoming qualifiers, Ikpeme congratulated them for winning the Africa Women Championship (AWC), adding that they should extend their dominance to the world stage. Read more

Burkina Faso snubs Keshi, appoints German

Burkina Faso Foot­ball Federation yesterday named Germot Rohr as the new coach of the Stallions over Nigeria’s Stephen Keshi.

According to reports com­ing from Ouagadougou, the Burkina Faso capital, the French-German Gernot Rohr was appointed the new helmsman. Read more

Monaco Defeats Arsenal

The veteran striker Dimitar Berbatov inspired visiting Monaco to a 3-1 victory over Arsenal in its first leg matchup in the Champions League round of 16. Monaco took the lead in the 38th minute after Geoffrey Kondogbia’s deflected strike wrong-footed goalkeeper David Ospina. Monaco punished Arsenal’s sloppiness eight minutes into the second half, launching a counterattack that Berbatov completed. Read more

 

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